You can still enjoy casseroles on a healthy diet.
Casseroles are a beloved meal for families. You can make them quickly with just a few dishes, and then you can reheat them easily so they provide tasty meals for several days. The result is less time cooking—and more time with your family.
Unfortunately, many casseroles lack healthy ingredients. Some have no veggies, many use red meat, some use processed meats like bacon or sausage, and others use processed ingredients like Ritz crackers or frozen tater tots.
You can still enjoy casseroles, even if you want to eat a healthier diet. There are many ways to make a healthier casserole, such as the following:
Veggies (especially fresh veggies) have a lot of fiber and other vitamins. Fiber is important for people with diabetes—and everyone, to be honest—because it slows down digestion and helps to control blood sugar levels. Use non-starchy veggies to keep your carb count on the lower side.
This recipe for chicken and bean casserole uses green beans. These are non-starchy veggies, are rich in fiber, and are a good source vitamin C. For the most health benefits, use fresh green beans (instead of canned). This can help control the amount of sodium—and improve the texture and flavor.
Choose lean protein.
Many casseroles use red meat, especially ground beef, but red meat is high in saturated fat. People with diabetes have an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases, and a diet high in saturated fat can exasperate that risk. Healthier protein options for a diabetes diet include beans, seafood, and chicken breast.
This recipe uses chicken breast and black beans. Chicken breast is low in saturated fat (compared to red meat), and black beans are rich in fiber.
Avoid processed meats.
Bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and chorizo add a bunch of flavor, but they also add a lot of sodium. A diet high in sodium is another risk factor for heart diseases. Instead of processed meats, add flavor with spices, herbs, and aromatics (like garlic and onion).
The best part? You can adjust this recipe to your preferences. Love spicy food? Add more jalapeño. Not a fan of black beans? Use pinto beans or peas. Hate green beans? Make the casserole with sliced bell pepper. Whatever your preferences, this casserole can work for you.
- Non-stick spray
- 1 lb cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1 cup instant rice, uncooked
- 1 cup string beans, chopped
- 1 cup yellow onions, diced
- 1 tbsp jalapeños, finely chopped
- 1 cup low fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 (10.75- ounce) can Cream of Chicken Soup
- 2 tablespoons low fat milk
- 1/2 cup black beans (reduced sodium), drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside. 2. In a large bowl combine the chicken, rice, yellow onions, string beans, jalapeños, 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, Cream of Chicken soup, milk, and black beans. Stir to combine. 3. Pour mixture into pan, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. 4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Allow to bake for another 5 minutes, uncovered, or until parmesan cheese is golden brown. 5. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Get to know carbs. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 12, 2020 at https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/understanding-carbs/get-to-know-carbs.)
Healthy food choices made easy. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 12, 2020 at https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy.)Protein. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 12, 2020 at https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy/protein.)